The recent barrage against the effectiveness of brainstorming has been a bit hard for those of us who are grounded in the Interaction Method. But evidence matters, doesn’t it? I know that Curtis has talked about the limits of brainstorming a couple of times in this blog. Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for Social Innovation
Enjoy these simple and powerful guidelines from Beth Kanter about how movement makes meetings and workshops more productive. This is great advice for getting beyond designing for “brains on sticks” as my colleague Curtis Ogden likes to say.
As a trainer and facilitator who works with nonprofit organizations and staffers, you have to be obsessed with learning theory to design and deliver effective instruction, have productive meetings, or embark on your own self-directed learning path. Learning theory is an attempt to describe how people learn. There are many learning theories and can be categorized in different ways:
Sometimes people call openness in group process and social engagement “disorganized” or “unstructured.” I find this to be a misperception and, frankly, unhelpful. Openness is differently organized and structured. It is different from many of the talking-at, entertainment-oriented, consumer-creating, and being-numbing settings to which we have grown accustomed.
Openness can certainly create discomfort, in part because it calls on us to step up and reach out, not hunker down and hide. It asks us to take responsibility and consider questions like, “What do I value?” “How do I want to contribute?” “What can we create here?” Openness is opportunity if we choose to act, knowing that through the perceived risk and any felt discomfort lies greater purpose, meaning and vitality.
In his post yesterday, Seth Godin offers up sage advice for designers of all kinds, including “social architects” like ourselves who are aiming to create convenings and collaborative processes that bring out the best in people and lead to greater social justice and regenerativity. Among his points: Read the rest of this entry »
Photo By: Eletrificado
The following blog post was authored by Meg Campbell for the Huffington Post. Meg is among the 2009 Class of Barr Fellows. A remarkable educuator, Meg’s understanding of human connection in spaces of learning and transformation is consonant with our approach here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change. Read the rest of this entry »
Paola Antonelli has appeared in various posts on this blog over the past couple of years as one of our favorite purveyors of design thinking and its application to social change. Now Antonelli is really stepping out. In an article for SEED Magazine, the senior curator of Design and Architecture at the Museum of Modern Art holds out a whole new and exciting realm of application for design – policymaking, governance, and social agendas. Read the rest of this entry »
My friends at the Engage Network recently asked me this provocative question:
What does it mean to create social change that is “human sized” and prioritizes people and relationships, rather than prioritizing large email lists, or campaigns, or raising money? What does that mean to you and YOUR work in the world?
Here is my first take at an answer: Read the rest of this entry »
“Everyone today has to be an artisan and bring something extra to their jobs.” This says Thomas Friedman in the New York Times. I’m not sure I like where he is coming from, it sounds a little bit like adding obscure features to a DVD player. But I do like the point. I like this idea of being artisans, of engaging our work as a craft, adding meaning to our tasks by putting our own signature on what we do.
Somewhere beyond Friedman’s capitalistic “do more,” in places outside the yupified fields of trendy taste, there is significant power to the work of an artisan. For example, the work of social change has become so professionalized that it is often disconnected from the depths of purpose that could unleash transformation. But by thinking of ourselves as artisans our own self-expression can actually serve connection, it can bring us closer to that place where hearts can meet.
Consider the purpose of your work, then think of what you do every day… how much more of yourself could you bring to this field where we toil? What’s your craft? What is it that you can create?
Lots of anticipation around this year’s Web of Change! I am on the facilitation team as well as one of the hosts for the event. Hosts have been asked to launch this year’s conversation through a series of thought pieces that will be posted on webofchange.com every week until our convening begins. I have the honor of launching our “WOC Thought Bomb Series,” with the following reflections on “Paradigm Next and the Intersection.” Click here to read, and please do share your responses!
The recent Shirley Sherrod debacle unfolds with a thousand lessons, among these are the very fact that whether we have a black President or not, the issue of race is alive and well in the United States. The incident also points to the potentially explosive concoction of new media technology and a 24hr “news” cycle, of the politics of spectacle and a culture of fear among our “leaders.” Even as technology is changing everything – our deepest wounds are yet to heal, and our suppressed demons continue to show their many heads.
This being said – I am an optimist! I trust the directionality of our current paradigm shift. Read the rest of this entry »
David Brooks is making me think again. This time he is pointing to the limits of policy. Yes, he’s throwing stones at what is a sacred cow for change makers of all stripes – and I’m glad he is doing it. As happens too often with Brooks, he gets dangerously close to cultural determinism, but it is by walking that line that he can manage to highlight some very important empirical patterns. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m a big fan of Kevin Kelly. His latest blog post reflects on what he calls “Two Kinds of Generativity” and it has me thinking about the next phase of movement. Kelly describes the evolutionary process of an innovation. He speaks of the first stage as one that is “vague, incomplete and open to change.” This first stage is appealing to the early adapters, “tinkerers, nerds, fans, and hacks who will make it do all kinds of things no one had thought of.” Read the rest of this entry »
Friends — I am asking you to help build my capacity to build our capacity to create the change we seek…. from the grassroots to the grasstops, and every village and hamlet in between. Last week, I received an invitation to participate in a meeting in a few weeks on the federal government’s nonprofit capacity building efforts — at the White House! Read the rest of this entry »
As technology continues to redefine our daily interactions, it is becoming clear that we need to learn a new form of literacy and quickly. Even more important than literacy though is the need to critically analyze and comprehend the new language which we encounter. An overwhelming call at first, but one that is made easier when we begin to embrace exploration and collaborate with one another as we learn. Here is a brilliant little Ted Talk Lawrence Lessig gave in 2007 regarding copyright and creativity.
Change is everywhere and at an ever increasing speed! In a recent post, Curtis highlights the trends that are shaping our sector and our society as a whole. In this provocative study, LaPiana invites us to become futurist and be attuned to what is unfolding now and what is yet to unfold. Let’s fathom what some of this may look like…
What does this all mean?
In this world where encyclopedias are written by millions on-line, policy change is influenced by citizen lobbyists through internet organizing and micro acts of inspiration and hilarity are seen daily on You Tube, the Tactical Technology Collective has created a video that illustrates this power called “10 Tactics for Turning Information into Activism”. They asked 50 human right activists: “What is info-activism?”
Be inspired by their answers!!!!
I had dinner with one of my closest friends the other night, he has become extremely successful in the world of finance, but he is not your traditional investment banker. He works for a relatively small boutique shop that specializes in buying (not selling!) other investment groups. Now, I’m not one of those nonprofit consultants that think our sector should behave more like the business world – by now we all know where that gets us! But I do think there are many lessons to be learned, especially from those who are successful in business by carving out their own rules.
When my friend is about to buy a firm their main focus is on the culture of that firm:
- Is it a culture that successfully unlocks the talent and self-motivation of its people?
- What is the leadership like and what do they really want?
Today’s post is inspired in part by a story I heard recently about a foundation that was paying consultants to work with grassroots community initiatives at a lower rate than it was for them to work with “more formal” organizations. It is also fueled by last week’s work with some amazing community activists in Holyoke, MA at the Food and Fitness Policy Council and from around New England at this year’s Grassroots Retreat convened by the New England Grassroots Environment Fund (NEGEF) and Toxics Action Center (TAC). It both blew me away and fired me up to learn about all of the initiatives that are under way from Hartford, CT to Hardwick, VT, Great Barrington, MA to Little Compton, RI, focused on local food and energy production, the preservation of local water rights, smart growth promotion, healthy lifestyles for our children . . .
Many of these efforts are being run with very few resources beyond the passionate people who have other full-time jobs or who in some cases are unemployed and still working as volunteers (this is not to overlook the financial support and wonderful technical assistance offered by the likes of NEGEF and TAC). Often these change agents are in the work because they cannot not be in it. This is about their lives, their families, their homes. And yet, what seems to get lost is that it really isn’t just about their lives and communities, it’s about all of us and wherever we live. We always live downstream or upwind from someone. We are all connected. Read the rest of this entry »
Just a month ago, the President called on foundations, philanthropists, and others in the private sector to partner with the government to find and invest in innovative, high-impact solutions that are found outside the Beltway. The press release for this new White House initiative, Community Solutions, stated:
“Now more than ever, we need to build cross-sector partnerships to transform our schools, improve the health of Americans, and employ more people in clean energy and other emerging industries. These community solutions will help build the new foundation for the economy and the nation. ”
What say ye? What are the implications of a government that, at least in some sense, ”gets it”?
Many of us are familiar with the concept of the Hedgehog and the Fox originally sited in an essay by British philosopher, Isaiah Berlin where he divided the world into hedgehogs and foxes based on their ways of thinking and being in the world. The hedgehog knows one big thing as compared to the fox who darts from idea to idea. This concept was most recently brought into strategic planning and nonprofit management circles by Jim Collins through his well read monograph, “Good to Great and the Social Sectors“. There he talks about discovering your “hedgehog” by asking three fundamental questions: What are you most passionate about? What are you best in the world at? And what drives your resource engine? The theory of the case is that your hedgehog, your one big idea, your strategic direction, lies in the answers to these questions. Read the rest of this entry »
That’s in just 11 years, so what is our vision? Things are changing really fast, so how do we take the shift into account. In his TED Talk on the next 5000 days of the web, Kevin Kelly outlines the contours of the world that is emergent, and it is very different than anything we’ve seen before. What is our role, as individuals and communities, organizations and movements – people who want to see a better world – how do we help shape this?
So much is in the ether about “social innovation.” There is a new office in the White House dedicated to the idea as well as a prestigious journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review and multiple books. The following are only two such examples: Geoff Mulgan’s The Process of Social Innovation 2007 and David Bornstein’s How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas,Updated Edition.
One of the best things that I have read recently is Social Innovation: What It Is; Why It Matters; and How It Can Be Accelerated. In this article the authors define social innovation as “new ideas that work, to meet pressing unmet needs and improve peoples lives”. They introduce us to the stages of innovation from the generation of ideas through prototyping and piloting to scaling up and learning. And they introduce us to the idea of the “bees and trees” i.e. that social change depends on small organizations, individuals and groups who have new ideas and are more mobile, quick and able to cross-pollinate connecting to the trees, which are big organizations like foundations, government and corporations which have the resilience, roots and scale to make things happen.
They posit that it is these alliances that will ensure that new and creative ideas will be translated into new products and services. At IISC we have spent a lifetime steeped in this struggle. We are bees learning constantly, experimenting continually and daunted by the time, effort and cost of turning many of these ideas into real and replicable products and services. While it remains a struggle, it is also our core commitment to “change how change happens” and so it is our dilemma to solve.